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8 Ways to Keep Your Guests from Knowing You Have Cats

Updated on May 8, 2015

Be Prepared

Inviting your friends over for dinner or game nights is supposed to be fun. But when you have cats, it can be more stressful than enjoyable. You probably spend the day cleaning—vacuuming, air freshening, and lint rolling—and barely have time to prepare food for your guests! For cat parents who live in small spaces this can be even more difficult, because the smell of litter tends to permeate the entire unit. What if your friends have allergies? This involves deeper cleaning!

Fear not, there are ways to minimize the odors and fur associated with your lovely creatures, and ways to minimize dander and dust. Just be sure to keep up on the cleaning so that when the day comes to invite your friends and family over you just need to do a basic sweep of your home to prepare.

Cats on Furniture


The best way to keep your home from smelling, looking, and feeling like you have cats is to vacuum. You're going to need to be serious about it, because once a month vacuuming won't do the trick. Try to vacuum once a week, focusing on the places your cats spend time. Do you have hardwood floors? You'll want to sweep or swiffer these to catch the furballs that inevitably appear. I suggest using the hand tool on the vacuum to reach corners, between bookshelves, behind the TV and under the couch.

You also need to pay attention to the furniture. If you don't cover your furniture with blankets (see below) you need to vacuum your furniture at least as often as you vacuum the floors. If you have a special pet vacuum, use the hand tools specifically made to pick up the fur. If these aren't getting the fur out of your furniture's fabric, see below for my tips on "furminating."

Don't stop with the floors and furniture. Head into the litter box room/closet/corner and vacuum up that litter mess! Vacuum the floors as usual, but keep in mind the litter will travel, even if you have a litter mat. Use the hand tools to catch the litter that has somehow made it into every corner of the room, and make sure to check the tops of the baseboards. You're not done yet! Has the dust somehow made its way up to layer the countertops and shelves? I keep wet wipes handy in the litter box area for this reason. You can also use them to wipe down the lip of the litter box.

Adorable, But Messy

How Often Should You Scoop Litter?

Often. Every day. Maybe even more than once a day, depending on how many cats you have. I know that sounds like a daunting task, but if you really want to keep your home free of cat odors this is the best way. If you have only one cat, you might be able to get away with not scooping every day, but your cat might not like this.

Nota Bene: Cats tend to like clean litter boxes. Imagine that you had to use a port-a-potty multiple times a day before it was cleaned.

Be sure you're not scooping the litter into a bag or trash can that remains next to the box. Neither you nor the cats will appreciate that the smell never goes away, even if the box itself is clean. Also make sure to replace the entire box with clean litter often. If you have just one cat this could be as little as once a month. If you have more cats, though, you'll want to consider dumping the entire box, cleaning it out—perhaps in a shower you don't use—and replacing with clean litter every two or three weeks.

Experts usually suggest one litter box per cat, with an extra one on top of all these. If you have one cat, you may even want two boxes, depending on the cat. However, if you have four cats you are probably short on space for fitting five boxes. See if you can get by with only four boxes, or even three. You'll have to scoop at least once every day, but it's a space-saver.

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Where To Keep Cat Food

Cat food has a pretty distinctive odor. The wet food can be very stinky—good for sick cats who can't smell—and dry food can be smelly too. Keeping cat food contained to one space is the best way to suppress the food smell.

Wet food:

  • Store in a cool, dry place until you open it. Of course, unopened canned food won't smell.
  • Cover with a can cap and place in the fridge; or
  • Transfer into a tupperware container and store in the fridge.
  • Try mixing in some water to stretch the wet food and provide extra hydration.

Dry food:

  • Unopened bags should be stored where the cats cannot break in!
  • Once opened, use a good clip to keep the bag shut (food will dry out and be unappetizing).
  • Transfer into a sealable container that remains airtight when closed.

If you feed your cats in the kitchen, keep in mind that they may become so accustomed to the routine that when you go to cook your own dinner they will expect food. This can be a problem if you are cooking or mixing drinks for guests and the cats come into the kitchen meowing! If you plan to feed your cats in a common area like the kitchen, keep the bowls out of the way—try putting them on a placemat to catch spills. If you put out wet food and the cats don't finish it, pick this up and wash the dishes. Dried wet food still smells and looks unpleasant.

Cuddling Kitties

How Many Cat Toys is Too Many?

Some cats love playing. Many cats appear lazy, but just haven't been given the proper toys. You should experiment until you find something your kitty likes, because even senior cats need play time. Experts suggest giving your cat time to play every day, often before feeding to mimic the natural cycle of play, eat, groom, sleep. Make sure you're playing correctly.

You have probably gathered a decent amount of cat toys by now, so you need a good place to keep them all. A guest-friendly house is a house without cat toys all over the place. This is true for children's toys and dog toys as well! You don't have to hide the toys. Just keep them in a basket or store most of them in a closet or drawer. This is actually better for the cats, because if the toys are out they're less enticing!

Provide Kitties with Their Own Space

Cats are known as independent creatures, though they often sit on laps and cuddle. The important thing to remember is it's on their time. Cats will let you know when they want attention. When they want to be alone, cats need a special place to call their own. If you have only one cat, provide him with at least a bed and a high up spot. This high up spot can be on top of a cat tree, or simply on a shelf or desk. If you don't mind allowing kitty to sleep on your desk, place a bed or folded blanket where you want him to go.

If you have multiple cats, you'll need to offer a few cat beds and high spaces. This is where a cat tree comes in handy. Cat trees offer multiple ledges to sleep and play on, and when placed next to a window offer a great view! Without spaces provided, cats usually find their own spots to curl up. This can be on your clothes, furniture, or bed. This means there will be fur!

Cats on Clothes


Some people swear by lint rollers or packing tape to remove fur. There are special attachments for vacuums (mentioned above) and reusable fur rollers. The best combination I have found, however, is a furminator and a lint roller. It depends on your furniture, but this trick has served me well for a variety of fabrics and weaves.

You may want to start by vacuuming to save time and sweat. Next, use the furminator as you would on a cat, only you don't have to be as gentle. Brush the furniture and gather the fur in your hand. Are you seeing dust and dander too? That's why you're using this tool! It's meant to pull out the excess undercoat on cats, so it really gets the grit out of your furniture's fabric.

You're bound to have some leftover lint and fur, so this is where the lint roller comes in. Roll it over the remaining fur and use it on the seams, where the furminator can pull out stitches.

Prevent Fur Accumulation

If you don't want to spend a few days a week lint rolling, furminating, and vacuuming your furniture, consider preventative actions.

  • Lay a blanket over your recliner, taking it off when you sit so you aren't sitting on the fur.
  • Place a cute towel or pillowcase over the ottoman or footstool where your cat likes to sleep.
  • Use special shams or throw pillows on the bed on top of/in front of the pillows where you place your head.
  • Use a duvet instead of a traditional comforter so you can more easily wash it. Do this often because kitties can bring litter dust into your bed—yuck!

Cats in Your Bed

Use Pheromones

Synthetic pheromones can be expensive, but they are worth it. If your kitty likes horizontal scratching (on your rugs, carpet, or other inappropriate places), has a history of spraying, or gets feisty with his feline companions, consider using a synthetic pheromone spray or diffuser. Feliway is a popular brand of synthetic pheromone. If you have multiple cats you'll want to invest in a diffuser. Place one on each floor of the house to keep the cats happy, and replace with a refill every month, even if there still appears to be liquid inside.

If you plan to take your cat on a trip, use the pheromone spray in your car about a 30 minutes before putting her inside. This should eliminate any urination, and should help calm kitty. You want to keep passengers from thinking you drive around with cats too, right?


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    • Penny Miranda profile imageAUTHOR

      Penny Miranda 

      4 years ago from Portland, OR

      I know the feeling, B. Leekley! I had three cats in a one-bedroom for a few years and it was an adventure! Sounds like you are smart shoppers.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      4 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      We have 3 cats in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. We get our furniture from FreeCycle, Salvation Army, and yard sales. We are basically servants to the cats in their dwelling place. We love having them with us--or being with them.

    • Penny Miranda profile imageAUTHOR

      Penny Miranda 

      4 years ago from Portland, OR

      So funny, Maria! Only one of my cats seems to think she's in a spa when I use the Furminator. The others act like they're being tortured...

    • profile image

      Maria Kuzmiak 

      4 years ago

      The Furminator is great! One of my cats acts like he's in a spa when I use it on him. It's amazing how much loose fur that thing can remove!

    • catspyjamas profile image


      4 years ago

      Good tips!


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